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South Jersey Times - Opinion: LoBiondo: Administration's Backtracking Shows that Obamacare is Still a Mess


Location: Unknown

By Rep Frank LoBiondo

Earlier this month the Obama Administration publicly acknowledged what many in Congress, health care experts, employers and everyday Americans have been predicting for the past three years -- namely that "Obamacare" is too deeply flawed to implement, and ultimately unworkable in reality.

With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year, Obamacare's taxes on individuals and employers who refuse to purchase or provide health insurance became the law of the land. Thus, the focus turned toward implementation of the 2,000-page law and its tens of thousands of pages of regulations.

Few experts believe the Obama administration when it repeatedly states that rollout of Obamacare is "on track," as the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) contends. Furthermore, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has raised significant questions as to the law's readiness, including the lack of extensive testing of the new systems which will operate the marketplace exchanges.

On July 2, the administration justified these concerns by announcing it was delaying until 2015 the requirement for employers with at least 50 workers to offer health coverage, due to complicated regulations issued by the Internal Revenue Service and HHS. (Businesses with fewer than 50 employees remain exempt from this mandate.)

While this gives a temporary reprieve to medium and large businesses, it does not change course for some employers who have already opted for more temporary or part-time workers, and have cut the hours of full-time ones to avoid the coverage requirements.

Likewise, there is speculation that more employers will attempt to avoid the tax penalty altogether by simply dropping in 2014 health care plans they currently offer, as the scheduled marketplace exchanges come online. This would force workers to secure their own coverage.

Delays in implementation and persistent questions from non-partisan experts such as the GAO further erode the remaining public support. The top Senate Democrat who authored Obamacare recently described implementation of the law as "a train wreck." Skepticism, uncertainty and anxiety continue in the eyes of local health care professionals, our small business owners and seniors. Not a week goes by that I don't hear from South Jersey families and family-owned businesses looking at their finances and fearing hikes in health premiums such as those reported in California, Ohio and other states.

Three years after Democrat majorities rammed Obamacare through Congress, House Republicans have successfully repealed or de-funded eight provisions of the law, including the excessive small-business IRS Form 1099 reporting mandate, and several slush funds that saved taxpayers more than $25 billion.

Despite repeated attempts, the most egregious parts of the law remain: the individual mandate to purchase coverage or pay a penalty; the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices such as wheelchairs and hearing aids; and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), one of more than 100 panels of unelected bureaucrats that will have the unchecked power to make reductions in services based on costs, not treatments. House Republicans will continue to fight to retain the critical doctor-patient relationship.

Making health care more accessible and affordable are shared goals on which everyone can agree. But creating a solution in which the American people benefit from common-sense proposals that ensures access to health professionals is equally vital.

President Barack Obama's health care law, while upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as a constitutional tax, has been consistently rejected by the court of public opinion. This month's announced delay further reinforces the perception that Obamacare, as signed into law, is not in the best interest of the country. It is simply too intrusive into the lives of every South Jersey resident and too burdensome to our employers who want to do right by their employees without bankrupting their businesses.

If the president supports a delay on mandating businesses to comply with Obamacare, why doesn't he support a delay for everyday Americans?

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., represents Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May counties and parts of Gloucester, Burlington, Camden and Ocean counties. He does not accept taxpayer-paid health coverage offered to members of Congress.

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